Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Fives- Contemporary YA faves

Paper Hangover asks the question What are your five favorite contemporary novels?

I love contemporary YA. I read plenty of fantasy and paranormal romance but when I pick up a contemporary YA it is like getting together with an old friend.

1. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen- I always feel like I have so much in common with characters in a Sarah Dessen novel.  This one reminded me of summers working at an ice cream store on the boardwalk.
Along for the Ride

2. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things

3. The Duff
The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

4. Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn- I realize these books have been out for a while now but I still love them and pretty much anything by Rachel Cohn.
Gingerbread (Cyd Charisse, #1)

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska

Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting caught up

The last week of my life has been taken over by bronchitis.

I didn't know I could be so tired.  Or sick. I spent two days sleeping on the couch and watching netflix.  I finally tried to leave my house to go to work for a few hours on Thursday but ended up coughing so much and feeling so awful that I went to Urgent Care.

I'm behind on my goals and challenges but I will get caught up.

I'm continuing to rest a little today since I go back to work tomorrow and there is no resting at work.

Friday, January 20, 2012


My writing group meets once a week at a space downtown.

Since the nature of the location where we meet is all about writing there are other writing groups who meet there including a group of NaNoWirMo-ers who meet year round and another group of kid lit writers.  

It usually works out that the other group of kid lit writers sits next to us.  I have to admit that when this happens my writing slows down.  They talk about books I've read.  

Sometimes I want to jump in on their conversations.

For example a couple weeks ago they were talking about The Wolves of Mercy Falls books by Maggie Stievater and I almost had to jump in and say that I was reading those and really enjoying Linger and thought it was better than Shiver.  

I think what makes it hard not to eavesdrop on the other writing group is that they are sort of the "cool table" of kid lit writers at the coffee shop.  From the names and activities that these people talk about I think they are probably in the nearby MFA program.  The fact that they talk about books we've read and writers we've heard of means we always have one ear on their table. 

I have to say that while I enjoy the discussions my word count takes a nose dive when they show up so this week I'm going to change where we sit and hopefully stay more focused on my own writing time.  

Do you write in coffee shops?  What interesting conversations do you eavesdrop on?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Recommendation- Little Blog on the Prairie

I just finished reading Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell.

In this book the main character, Gen, finds herself at Frontier Camp with her family for the summer instead of spending the summer at soccer camp and the pool with her friends.

The camp puts families into an 1890's frontier life where they must learn how to farm, cook, do laundry, milk cows and raise chickens.

Gen leaves her iPod with the camp director but manages to sneak a cell phone which she uses to secretly text her friends back home.  

All these texts about life on the prairie are being turned into a blog by her friends called "Little Hell on the Prairie"

Fans of Little House on the Prairie books will enjoy this modern day take on prairie life.

A few years ago I got to work on the musical version of Little House on the Prairie.  There was an event in this book that totally reminded me of an event in that play (also in the books).

At the theater I often see people in costumes from a specific time period using cell phones and other modern day technology.  It is always pretty cool to see.  There was a scene in this book that totally reminded me of seeing actors using technology while in costume.

There are other kids at the camp including a goth girl in a blended family of blonde sporty types, the cute boy, and the camp directors' daughter, Nora.

Fans of Little House books and the show Frontier Life will love this book.  It is also the perfect book for the middle grade readers that can be hard to shop for.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Challenges for 2012

Last week I posted about Comment Challenge 2012, a challenge to comment of five blogs a day.  Through that challenge I've discovered another challenge.

The 12 x 12 in 12 Challenge

Hosted by Julie Hedlund at Write Up My Life

The challenge is to write one picture book manuscript a month for the year.

Since I'm looking for ways to write more and to keep me on track with my writing I am totally doing this.

In the past I've taken classes which have kept me on track writing wise but this last year the place where I take classes has offered fewer classes because they aren't filling up.  They are also shifting to more online classes which is great because it means more people can take classes but it also means that classes are a little out of my price range now.  This challenge will help me stay on track.

I've recommitted to my daily writing practice so I've been feeling less stuck in some of my projects.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Want to be a better writer? Listen to an audiobook.

One of my best discoveries of the last year was audiobooks.  I never really listened to audiobooks before. I've tried in the past but when I'd listen in the car I'd always end up turning the volume down and missing part of the book.

I recently rediscovered audiobooks during a week working in the costume shop and I totally love them.

I'll let you in on a secret.  I think that listening to audiobooks is making me a better writer.

I was an independent reader growing up.  I grew up with a single parent.  My mom read to us but since I was an independent reader I probably gravitated to reading on my own pretty early.
Other than going to author readings and events it has been forever since I listened to a story being read to me.

Listening to audiobooks has helped me pay more attention to pacing in my own writing.  As I'm writing I begin to wonder how this would sound being read aloud.  Is the pacing right?  Is the language fresh?  Is the writing concise?  Is there a good mix between dialog and description?

Do you listen to audiobooks?  How do they help your writing?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My mom rocks

Yesterday was my birthday and I enjoyed a wonderful day with my mom.  

We went to see War Horse.  She confessed after seeing the movie that she'd seen it the week earlier but she still cried for the last 20 minutes of the movie and tearfully declared, "I think it was better than Secretariat."

If you are looking for inspiration on getting things done look no further than my mom.  She is committed to fitness and wanted to get her workout in. This isn't a new thing, she did a triathlon with me last year and wants to stay in shape for this year's triathlon.  I had to work in the evening so she was going to go to my gym and pay for a guest pass.  Parking is crazy at my gym at 6 p.m. so she went to my house and googled the location of the nearest YMCA (she's a member at the YMCA in Iowa so she can go to a YMCA for free).  She found her way there even though I'd gotten lost earlier that day trying to show her where it was.  I thought it was impressive that she went to a gym she'd never been to in a city that is not her own and got her work out in, no excuses. Go Mom.  What will you do to complete your goals today?    

I'm busy getting caught up and responding to birthday comments and blog comments.  I also signed up for  the Comment Challenge 2012 , a challenge to comment on 5 kid lit blogs a day for the next 21 days. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

RTW- Writer's Retreat

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. 

Describe your dream writing retreat. Where would you go? Who and what would you bring?

For a couple years I've wanted to go to Madeline Island School of the Arts.  It is located on Madeline Island, which is amazing.  They offer classes in writing, photography, quilting, and art.  I tried to go a couple years ago but they weren't quite up and running yet with their classes.  
I'm patiently waiting to find out what my schedule looks like after Aug. 20 so I can see if a fall trip to MISA would work out for me.  

I've also considered renting a writer's studio at The Loft.  So far I haven't been able to justify this expense since I already live by myself and don't have to worry about distractions that some writers worry about.  Other than the cats I really don't have a lot of other distractions.  Renting a studio at the Loft feels like it would be a way of committing to my writing and really setting aside a time and space to do it in.